What Gives a Beer Value?

A chart showing relative values we place on beers.

This is another attempt to ‘graph our relationship with beer‘. This time, it’s about capturing the various qualities that give a particular beer value in our eyes.

  • Sentiment: homesickness, happy memories, family connections.
  • Taste: how nice is it?
  • Complexity: and how deep?
  • Tradition: does it connect us with history and a particular culture? (Cask ale does this.)
  • Value: i.e. value for money.
  • Rarity: how likely are we to find this beer again any time soon?
  • Novelty: Schlenkerla’s smoked maerzen scores highly here.
  • Sessionability: we like beers we can drink a few of.
  • Refreshment: sometimes, we want beer to quench our thirst and cool us down.

For example, we know, objectively speaking, that Butcombe’s cask bitter isn’t the world’s best beer but, nonetheless, we value it more highly than almost as highly as Duvel. That sounds nuts, right? But we’re not saying it’s as great a a better beer, only that, for us, a pint of Butcombe Bitter is tied up with happy times in Somerset pubs with Bailey’s parents (sentiment); and, especially when we lived in London, it had a certain rarity value.

Even we were surprised to see that St Austell’s Black Prince Mild has the highest value of any beer on the chart, but then again, it is remarkably rare; gives us a powerful sense of engaging with brewing tradition; taps into all the sentimental associations we make with mild-loving grandparents; and is a wonderful session beer.

Schlenkerla Maerzen scores highly because, not only does smoked beer have novelty value, and a taste we happen to like, but even the merest whiff of it transports us back to Bamberg.

We could record marks for every beer we drink against this system. It might be interesting to see, after a year or two, which ends up having the most ‘value’, and whether we would also consider it our favourite beer.

8 thoughts on “What Gives a Beer Value?”

    1. Yes, although this is far from being a mathematically rigorous exercise.

      (We could give taste more weight, perhaps?)

  1. This is a great way of evaluating value. The only thing i would change for my personal chart would be to take out Sessionability and Refreshment to match my current style of drinking, (caused by work and family commitments), which recently has been big and complex beers which i may drink and intend to drink a small amount of. I would put in crave – how much do i crave another one i cant have!

  2. Value for money is an internal calculation that should be just price. The final calculation with determine value for money, won’t it?

    1. Yes, you’re probably right. Using value to determine value creates some kind of terrifying infinitely spiralling wormhole.

    1. Oops. We added refreshment at the last minute which gave Duvel a bump. Thanks for pointing that out.

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